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Arts Leader Profile: Gendry Sherer, Miami International Airport Galleries

Written By Josie Gulliksen
July 10, 2024 at 3:43 PM

Gendry Sherer, Division Director of Fine Arts & Cultural Affairs at Miami International Airport.
Photo credit Barron Sherer.

In the seven years since she became Division Director of Fine Arts & Cultural Affairs at Miami International Airport, Gendry Sherer has had many memorable moments, keeping the airport’s 52.3 million passengers engaged in the arts.

She recalls one memory in particular back in 2018 while working with art collectors Sheldon and Myrna Palley whose world-class glass collection was on display at MIA. “I remember fondly working on the ‘Contemporary Glass: From Sand to Art’ exhibition with the Palleys,” said Sherer. “Myrna was incredibly passionate about her collection.”

Palley invited Sherer and Victoria Allende, MIA’s fine arts coordinator to her house where they encountered a piece of glass at every turn and step.  Sherer says “Myrna knew every piece intimately which was impressive, and she also had a good relationship with the artists behind the work. She was committed to her collection, but she was also devoted to the artists.”

During that project, Sherer experienced first-hand Myrna Palley’s love and enthusiasm for the medium. It was infectious, and opened her eyes to glass art and an appreciation of the numerous possibilities in glass art.

By far Sherer’s most significant project took place in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown when they developed an acquisitions initiative aimed at providing a boost to local artists. The initiative was the first Call to Artists for artwork and it was the MIA Fine Arts & Cultural Division’s response to creating an economic stimulus and supporting local artists.

Cristina Lei Rodriguez, Coreopsis Study Part 1 (April 20, 2022 11:37am) and Coreopsis Study Part 2 (April 20, 2022, 11:20am), digital prints on translucent vinyl, 117 x 280 in. each. Photo by Daniel Portnoy. Courtesy MIA Galleries, Miami International Airport.

“The Aviation’s Chief of Staff played a crucial role in dividing my divisions’ funding among multiple working artists, a decision that was instrumental in aiding the arts community to be vibrant, encouraged, and supported, and providing much-needed support to local artists during those challenging times.” Sherer said. “We then featured the works in an exhibition called ‘Recent Acquisitions,’ most of which are currently on display at various locations throughout MIA.”

Prior to heading up the division, Sherer joined as its Fine Arts Coordinator in 2014 assisting with temporary exhibitions and implementing new art commissions and special projects. At that time, the division was led by Yolanda Sanchez, who founded MIA Galleries, the Airport’s art and exhibitions program, until she retired from the Airport in 2017.

With experience in art curation, she began her career in the local arts ecosystem at the Miami-Dade Public Library System, where she worked for nearly a decade. She apprenticed with Curator Barbara Young and art historian Helen Kohen, and served as Assistant Curator under Denise Delgado.

Johnny Robles, Gloria Bow (Series: Zenith), 2021, mural painting, 11 ft. 2 in. x 12 ft. 9 in. Photo credit Carlo Rojas. Courtesy of the artist.

Sherer’s love and passion for the arts was nurtured early on, growing up around family members who painted, drew, and worked with pottery. While she knew she wanted to be involved in the arts somehow, it was not until later she realized her passion for history, researching and contemplating the lives of artists and the environments in which they worked.

Outside of her career in the arts world, she serves as a Cultural Advancement Grant Program Panelist for Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs. “I am continually amazed by the vibrant, rich, and diverse cultural community in which we live and work. I feel incredibly honored to work with exceptionally talented artists and support their projects in any way I can, both at the airport and outside,” said Sherer.

Her goal at Miami International Airport MIA Galleries is that travelers experience some form of relief from the chaos and anxiety that often comes with traveling. Because airports can be stressful and nerve-wracking environments, the art they feature throughout aims to enhance and improve the overall experience for the traveling public.

“Through our exhibitions and art installations, whether they are temporary, site-specific works or more permanent pieces like those from the Art in Public Places collection, the goal is for visitors to arrive and leave with a distinct sense of place, to reflect our diverse community, natural resources, and artistic and cultural identity,” she says.

R & R Studios, PEACE & LOVE, 2013, silk flowers & EPS, 2 x 5 ft. (approx. each letter), 20 x 16 ft. (approx. overall). Photo credit Dan Forer. Courtesy of MIA Galleries, Miami International Airport.

Serving as an ever-evolving canvas, the important work never ends at the airport and there are several exciting exhibitions coming there this year.

At their MIA Galleries they are collaborating with Film Miami for an upcoming exhibition, “And Now, Our Feature Presentation: Miami Film Posters, 1941-2024.” The exhibition features over 30 movie posters offering an overview of seven decades of filmmaking in Miami and surrounding areas. “It celebrates Miami as a global destination that inspires artists, authors, screenwriters, and filmmakers while inspiring and supporting local creators who contribute to the vibrant film and entertainment community,” stated Gendry.

Gendry gave details on two upcoming solo exhibitions at MIA Galleries Cameraworks, a venue dedicated to showcasing local talent in photography and photo-based art. The shows will feature artists Sue Montoya and Nicole Combeau, who utilize photography to explore the intersections of place, memory, and the movement associated with migration. Curated by Amanda Bradley, this exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Women Photographers International Archive (WOPHA) 2024 Congress.

Michelle Weinberg, Tropic Episodes, 2019, digital imagery printed on acrylic (32 panels). Photo credit Daniel Portnoy. Courtesy of MIA Galleries, Miami International Airport.

She is also immensely proud of the airport’s Children’s Gallery, one of their longest and oldest exhibition spaces “where we collaborated with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and is where we initiated the art program. It is located between Connector D & E and is currently under renovation.”

Magnus Sodamin, Reflections of Florida Wild, 2021, mixed-media mural, 40 ft. 9 in. x 7 ft. 6 in. Photo credit Rudolf Sodamin. Courtesy of the artist.

In honor of the Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places’ 50th Anniversary, MIA Galleries is teaming up with Art in Public Places staff to present a photographic selection of some of the most significant APP works throughout the County. Art in Public Places Curator Amanda Sanfilippo is co-curating the exhibition.

Although most travelers see the airport as just a place to get them to their destination, Sherer’s mission is that the airport be a platform for artists and that travelers are aware of this.

Gendry closed with final thoughts on the importance of art in public places, saying, “Art at an airport plays a significant role in elevating the image and importance of the airport in our community, so for the airport employees and local residents who travel through MIA, we hope that the art instills a sense of pride in the place they call home.”

Visit the Miami International Airport website to learn about their public art and exhibitions. https://www.miami-airport.com/art-and-exhibitions.asp

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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